Updated: Apr 24
When taking our first steps in a brand new field, we can be quick to jump in and apply what we think we know, because it feels exhilarating! It's intoxicating! Our entire world has opened in some extraordinary new way, and we want to share it with everyone! We can confidently feel like we already know everything, without realising that we've only just begun to scratch the surface. And this can trip us up in more ways than one.
All the way back in 1989, I was frequently enthralled by the electric mind of Mitch. We both lived at International House, a student dorm on the grounds of the University of Queensland. Mitch was a year ahead of me, and his mind never rested . . . nor did he. He could be found in the main lounge, day or night, seeking conversations with others. Word was he only ever slept 2 or 3 hours each night.
One afternoon, he shared something that made a deep impression on my young teenage mind. He drew a big circle in the middle of a page and said, "Imagine that's all the knowledge in the entire world." All right.
And then, making a tiny dot inside the circle, he said, "And that's all you currently know."
Then he mused, "But what if you devoted yourself to your studies here at UQ and earned your degree? Then, you might know this much." And he drew a slightly larger dot.
"And what if you kept studying for another few years? Then a few more years? And then another decade? And you dedicated yourself to your path until you ultimately became a world-recognised expert?"
Each time he asked a question, Mitch drew a slightly larger dot within the circle, culminating with one really large dot. So far, so good. I was keeping up with him.
Mitch continued, "Inside the dot is everything you've learned so far. But outside the dot is everything you still need to learn. Even the Goethes, Einsteins, and Teslas of the world don't know everything. No one's dot is as big as the greater circle. There's always more to learn."
"As the dot gets bigger, it'll obviously hold more knowledge and wisdom within it. But did you notice that the dot's circumference is also getting bigger?"
No, I hadn't. I mean, it's obvious, right? But it hadn't occurred to me until Mitch pointed it out.
"The circumference is the membrane between all that you know (on the inside), and all that you don't know (on the outside)."
Aha! Lightbulb moment! 💡
"So, the less you know, the smaller the dot . . . and the smaller the circumference. In other words, the less you know, the less exposure you have to everything you don't know yet."
"This is why beginners (or those who've never even studied a subject) can often feel really confident, because it seems like they already know everything. There is an illusion of knowledge. And this can be a real problem on two fronts. Firstly, it can be an obstacle to further learning. I mean, why study if you already know everything, right?? And secondly, while they think they know everything, they often know just enough to be dangerous!"
"On the other hand, the more you know, the bigger the dot . . . and, therefore, the bigger the circumference. To put it another way, the more you know, the more you realise you don't know. Are you with me??"
Yes! Yes, I was.
Mitch concluded, "So, those who are the wisest and the most experienced among us can often feel like complete impostors. They can doubt they know enough to be of use to anyone at all, because they're just so aware of everything they still need to learn. And in the face of this awareness, they're often the humblest among us . . . "
2nd lightbulb moment! 💡 Thanks, Mitch!
Great Minds Think Alike!
While Mitch was the first to bring this to my attention, he was neither the first nor the only person to understand it.
I could quote Shakespeare from "As You Like It" (1599):
“The fool doth think he is wise,
but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
Or Charles Darwin from The Descent of Man (1871)
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."
Or Alexander Pope's poem "An Essay on Criticism" (1711):
"A little learning is a dang'rous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring.
There, shallow draughts intoxicate the brain.
And drinking largely sobers us again."
The Pierian Spring was believed to be a fountain of knowledge and inspiration; and was said to be sacred to the nine Muses of Greek mythology. How I love the notion of drinking deeply from the sacred waters of the Muses themselves!
"Shallow draughts intoxicate the brain. And drinking largely sobers us again."
Newbies and Rookies and Sceptics, Oh My!
Newbies and Rookies
When we're first learning something, we can be quick to jump in and apply what we think we know, because it feels exhilarating! It's intoxicating! Our entire world has opened in some extraordinary new way, and we want to share it with everyone! Our mind rushes ahead and tries to apply the new learning without understanding that we don't truly have a strong-enough foundation just yet. We can confidently believe that we already know everything, without realising that we've only just begun to scratch the surface. We may not realise the need to keep studying. We might even get a little cocky or arrogant about it!
Can you hear all the 1 words in this?? Thank goodness for 1, right? 1's energy initiates. 1's passion and enthusiasm and excitement gives us the momentum needed to really jump in and get started on this new path! 1 engenders us with the necessary confidence to have a go . . . and then sometimes 1 can get a little arrogant. But without 1, we'd never take that leap into something new. So, it's a definite blessing.
Having said that, there is a deep need, whether fully appreciated or not in these very early stages, to commit to our ongoing study . . . to keep drinking from the Pierian Spring; and to stick with it, even when it's getting difficult or boring. (Can you hear the 4?) And as we venture even further down this track, we realise that the subject is becoming less black and white than we thought; it's less clear cut than we imagined. The simple answers we once sought and offered to others, no longer feel substantial enough.
Indeed, we can feel like we're losing ground; and that we're making waaay more mistakes than we used to. It can feel wholely discouraging, as we become more and more aware of the nuanced grey areas of our field. We can be humbled when we realise just how much there actually is yet to learn and integrate . . . and we can long for the simple days when we first started on this path. (Can you hear the 6, now? As we strive for mastery of our craft?)
As Mitch said, the more we know, the more we realise we just don't know.
But instead of this signalling that we should just give up, it is a sign that our skills are dramatically improving! As counter-intuitive as that may feel, it's a call to just keep diving in. If we maintain our trajectory, we'll soon enter 7's realm of expertise and specialisation; and potentially even 8's realm of fame and being seen as an authority in our field—the cream of the crop. And then 9's realm of the wise woman or the sage.
Just keep learning, and practising, and opening yourself to increasingly nuanced and difficult layers of experience.
On the other hand, perhaps we've never even studied something before, but we think we know all about it. Perhaps, our mind is closed to even the smallest conversation on a particular topic, because we arrogantly believe that we already "know" all the answers. Again, this is a situation where it's nigh-on-impossible to learn something, because we confidently/arrogantly believe that we already know.
In truth, we don't even know that we don't even know, that we don't even know!
This reminds me of Jeffrey Wolf Green (Born: 2 December 1946, 25/7), who was one of the founders of the Evolutionary Astrology tradition, along with Steven Forrest. True to his 25/7 Birth Path, he commenced his astrological journey as a deep sceptic. As a former priest, he would loudly condemn and disparage astrology to anyone who would listen to him. Until one day, his senior at the seminary asked if he'd ever actually studied astrology?? Of course he hadn't! Why on Earth would he???? And so, he was told that if he wanted to continue disparaging astrology, he'd have to actually study it, so that he could speak from an informed position, rather than this ignorant one. Otherwise, he no longer had permission to rail against astrology at the seminary.
Frustrated by this, he dutifully began to study astrology . . . solely for the purpose of disproving it, and of being allowed to continue speaking out against it. Much to his extraordinary astonishment, though, once he actually started studying astrology, he fell in love with it! So much so, he ultimately left the priesthood, and became a full time, professional astrologer, and ultimately an astrology teacher. He also, as mentioned before, became the founder of a new tradition within the astrological community.
Thank goodness he was pushed beyond his ignorance into actually learning astrology!
"To know that you do not know is best."
As the ancient philosopher Lao Tzu once said:
“To know that you do not know is best.
To think you know, when you do not, is a disease.
Recognizing this disease as a disease is to be free of it.”
So, if you're truly excited about developing your skills in any field, allow yourself to deeply engage it, beyond your initial enthusiasm. Give yourself permission to stay with it, even when it becomes hard or confusing. Allow yourself to dive further and further down the rabbit hole. Trust me, you'll never reach the end of it! 🤓 And you'll be astonished by how much more there is to learn; by how rich and complex your field is; and by how nuanced and discerning you'll become!
Where am I going with this?
When we first start to learn numerology or astrology, we need to heed Mitch's warning about knowing just enough to be dangerous. Otherwise, we may find ourselves making personal decisions, or interpretations of charts (our own or others'), that are based in our enthusiastic-but-perhaps-limited understanding of both the techniques and the archetypes themselves. And from that place, we may unintentionally block the guidance and the opportunities that Life is offering us.
For example, when Life brings us an opportunity to do something, we may think, "Oh, no. I can't possibly do that, because I'm in a 4 Year, and that's a 9 thing to do." (For example, perhaps we're invited to work with a civil rights committee, but we step back because we know that rights are part of 9's significations . . . not 4's.)
Ummmmm. If Life is calling you to experience something, then it's a tailor-made opportunity just for you. And the timing will be perfect. Life knows what it's doing!
So, don't get in your own way.
Say "YES!" Step in. See how it unfolds!
And then - if you'd like to improve your numerological skills - dig into why this opportunity is being presented to you, now. If you find yourself scratching your head and thinking, "But I just don't see how this is a 4 experience???" then get excited! Because you're about to learn something! Well . . . IF you're wise enough to acknowledge that there might be something you're not quite seeing? And IF you're willing to then dive a little deeper; to do some more research; or to speak with your teacher about it, etcetera.
For example, you may come to realise that you've confused certain significations of the 4 and the 9 archetypes. Maybe this IS a 4 experience, but you hadn't discerned a nuanced difference between the 4 and the 9? Perhaps you hadn't realised that 4 and 9 both rule rights . . . but 4 rules civil rights, while 9 rules human rights.
Again, if you're truly excited about developing your skills in Numerology, allow yourself to more deeply engage it, beyond your initial enthusiasm and confidence.
May you win your battle with the "illusion of knowledge."